The wave of support for the FIFA Women’s World Cup has inspired the next generation of Illawarra soccer stars.
Following the quarter final between France and Australia, OzTam revealed that the game was watched by over 7.2 million people, making it the most viewed sporting event of 2023 and most viewed women’s football match ever in Australia.
The increase in viewership and enthusiasm for women’s football has also had an important impact on local players.
Jennifer Algie, coach of the under 11s girls team at the UOW Junior Soccer club, described the excitement she has seen from the team.
“The focus around women’s soccer because of the world cup is having an immediate effect on our junior players,” Jennifer said.
“One of our under 11s players said to me, you know when I did that run towards the goal, I felt like a Matilda.”
Video: UOW Junior Soccer Club Under 11’s girls team watching the Matildas quarter final
Also feeling the support for women’s football is Suzy Astin, a player in the Gerringong Breakers Women’s Soccer team and mum to three junior players. Suzy said that the recognition the Matildas are receiving is something she never saw as a young player.
“This kind of exposure for women’s sport and support from the community was not something that I would have thought was normal when I was the age my children are,” Astin said.
“I love the way everyone is throwing themselves behind the women’s team and I do think it will have a positive impact on the sport.”
Experienced athletes like Emma Ilijoski, who plays for Canberra United Women’s A-League team, and The Young Matildas, know how essential the support for women’s football is in paving the way for junior players.
“I’m a big believer of you can’t be what you can’t see,” said Emma.
“It’s inspiring me to follow my dreams and to dream big, so I can’t imagine how much it’s doing for junior players.
“Hopefully in ten years’ time we can look back on this generation and be so proud they had to break down so many barriers.”